Monthly Archives: November 2009

A Painful Night Visitor

It is not unusual to get a sudden spasm or cramp in a muscle, causing excruciating pain and a temporary inability to move. The condition, however, has an unusual colloquial name in the US and the UK — charley horse. This may be because the pain resembles the kick of a horse. The ailment is not confined to Western nations or horse riders. It affects 70 per cent of people over the age of 50 and 50 per cent of women during pregnancy.


These leg cramps usually last less than a minute — though it may seem much longer as the pain is severe — but the contraction may take several minutes to subside. It may leave a residual dull ache. It can occur once — as a never-to-be-forgotten single incidence — or several times a month, or disturb the person’s sleep night after night.

Although any muscle can go into such cramps, it commonly occurs in bigger muscles that cross two joints, like the hamstrings and quadriceps which cross the knee and hip or calf muscles which cross the ankle and the knee. It can occur in the fingers and toes as well.

The exact reason for cramps is not known. Older people, especially post menopausal obese women, and smokers are more prone to them. Improper footwear while exercising aggravates the problem. Medications — such as statins (for high cholesterol), some drugs for high blood pressure, diuretics and steroids — may cause cramps. People of all ages can develop cramps, especially if they change their mode of exercise and suddenly increase its intensity, type and duration.

Cramps are a result of electrolyte imbalance in the body. This causes defective functioning of the muscle-nerve reflex arc. It is rather like traffic lights going out of sync and causing a jam. The electrolytes involved are sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc and calcium. Cramps occur if the ratio among these minerals changes. Proper functioning of the reflex arcs also requires biochemical reactions in the body, mediated by enzymes. The latter are affected by diseases like diabetes and malfunctioning of the thyroid gland. Deficiencies in the B group of vitamins, alcohol consumption, excessive caffeine intake and smoking also affect the enzymes.

If you have several attacks of leg cramps a month, consult your doctor. You need to tackle treatable conditions and change medication that may be aggravating it. If the cramps are due to pregnancy, they usually disappear once the baby is born.

If all the tests are normal, you may try a few simple measures:

* Try eating three to four helpings of fresh fruit and raw vegetables every day. It will correct any potassium and vitamin B deficiency.

* Eat a handful of nuts. It will take care of your requirements of magnesium and zinc.

* If you are anaemic, take iron and folic acid supplements.

* Most people do not get enough calcium from their diet and this needs to be supplemented. Around 1,200 mg of calcium needs to be taken daily, preferably at bedtime.

* Keep yourself well hydrated. Drink at least three litres of water a day and at least 250 ml before going to bed.

* Finish all your exercise at least an hour before bedtime.

* Soak the legs in warm water for 10 minutes before bedtime, and place a pillow at the end of the bed so that you sleep with your feet propped up.

* Some stretches done morning and evening prevent cramps. Stand on the floor with your feet apart. Stretch your hands up over your head and rise up on to your toes. Holding this position, rock backwards and forwards on your feet for a minute.

* Always warm up and cool down before and after exercise.

* The stretches done as a part of yoga prevent cramps.

If you develop spasms despite all this, immediately try to push the foot upwards. Massage the affected leg and apply moist heat. Sometimes, stretching the unaffected leg helps.

Leg cramps occur specifically at night. That is what distinguishes them from pain that is due to nerve disorders or damage, slipped discs or blocked blood vessels which reduce blood circulation to the legs. These diseases cause pain all the time, day and night.

“Restless legs” are different from leg cramps. This is a peculiar condition where both the legs develop pins and needles and sometimes a creeping pain several times during the night. It wakes up the person, and relief can be obtained only by moving the leg or standing up. Sleep is disturbed and inadequate. This needs to be evaluated by a doctor and treated with medication.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Brazilian Mint Tea Good for Pain Relief

An herb called Brazilian mint treats pain as effectively as some synthetic drugs, English researchers report.
……………..Brazilian Mint Tea
Traditional healers in Brazil have long used the herb Hyptis crenata to treat a range of health problems, including headaches, stomach pain, fever and flu. This study is the first to scientifically prove the pain-relieving properties of Brazilian mint.
In experiments with mice, the Newcastle University researchers found that Brazilian mint tea (the traditional way of administering the medicine) was as effective at relieving pain as a synthetic aspirin-style drug called Indomethacin.

The study came out on  Nov. 24 at a conference in India in advance of publication in an upcoming issue of the journal Acta Horticulturae.

“What we have done is to take a plant that is widely used to safely treat pain and scientifically proven that it works as well as some synthetic drugs. Now the next step is to find out how and why the plant works,”…….. study leader Graciela Rocha said in a university news release.

She and her colleagues plan to launch clinical trials to assess Brazilian mint’s pain relief qualities in people.

Youmay click for more information:

Source: Newcastle University, news release, Nov. 24, 2009

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Salt Enhances Health Risks

It’s known that eating a lot of salt puts people at greater risk of high blood pressure. Now there’s confirmation of a corollary: High salt intake also translates to significantly greater risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
A review published in the Nov. 25 online edition of BMJ found that a difference of just 5 grams of regular daily salt intake spells a 23 percent difference in the rate of stroke and a 17 percent difference in the rate of cardiovascular disease.
According to the review, the World Health Organization recommends that people consume only 5 grams — about a teaspoon — of salt each day. But people in the West typically eat around 10 grams a day, and those in Eastern Europe consume even more.

The review authors analyzed 13 studies, involving more than 170,000 people, that assessed the link between salt and cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The researchers estimated that reducing daily salt intake by 5 grams around the world could prevent more than 1 million stroke deaths and nearly 3 million deaths from cardiovascular disease each year. And because it’s hard to measure salt intake, those numbers could actually be even higher, the authors noted.

Click for more knowlwdge

British Medical Journal, Nov. 25, 2009

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‘Spoonful of Sugar’ Makes The Worms’ Lifespan Go Down

If worms are any indication, all the sugar in your diet could spell much more than obesity and type 2 diabetes. Researchers reporting in the November issue of Cell Metabolism say it might also be taking years off your life.
By adding just a small amount of glucose to C. elegans’ usual fare of straight bacteria, they found the worms lose about 20 percent of their usual lifespan. They trace the effect to insulin signals, which can block other life-extending molecular players.

Although the findings are in worms, Cynthia Kenyon of the University of California, San Francisco says there are known to be many similarities between worms and people in the insulin signaling pathways department.

As an aside, Kenyon says she read up on low-carb diets and changed her eating habits immediately — cutting out essentially all starches and desserts — after making the initial discovery in worms. The discovery was made several years ago, but had not been reported in a peer-reviewed journal until now.

You may click to see :Avoiding Sweets May Spell A Longer Life, Study In Worms Suggests

ScienceDaily November 5, 2009

Cell Metabolism November 2009;10(5):379-91

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Want to live longer? Try Vitamin D

Writing in the journal Clinical Endocrinology, scientists from the Netherlands, Austria, and the U.S. report that low blood levels of the sunshine vitamin are associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality, and mortality from heart disease, in the elderly. The research follows hot on the heels of similar findings published in Nutrition Research and in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The new study used data from 614 people participating in the Hoorn Study, a prospective population-based study with men and women with an average age of 69.8. Blood levels of 25(OH)D were measured at the start of the study. After an average of six years of follow-up, 51 deaths had been documented, 20 of which were due to cardiovascular health.

People with the lowest average vitamin D levels were found to be at a 124 and 378 percent increased risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality, respectively.

Commenting on the potential mechanism, the researchers note:
“Apart from the maintenance of muscular and skeletal health, vitamin D may also protect against cancer, infections, autoimmune and vascular diseases, suggesting that vitamin D deficiency might contribute to a reduced life expectancy.”

Adults with lower blood levels of vitamin D may also be more likely to die from heart disease or stroke. Scientists in Finland compared blood levels of vitamin D, and deaths from heart disease or stroke over time in more than 6,000 people. Those with the lowest vitamin D levels had a 25 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease or stroke.

In addition, in a study of 166 women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, nearly 70 percent had low levels of vitamin D in their blood, according to a study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Breast Cancer Symposium. The analysis showed women with late-stage disease and non-Caucasian women had even lower levels.

Said Luke Peppone, Ph.D., research assistant professor of Radiation Oncology, at Rochester’s James P. Wilmot Cancer Center:

“Vitamin D is essential to maintaining bone health and women with breast cancer have accelerated bone loss due to the nature of hormone therapy and chemotherapy. It’s important for women and their doctors to work together to boost their vitamin D intake.”

Resources: November 3, 2009
Reuters October 29, 2009
University Rochester Medical Center October 9, 2009
Clinical Endocrinology November 2009, Volume 71, Issue 5, Pages: 666-672
American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Breast Cancer Symposium, San Francisco, CA October 8, 2009

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In Search of Unqualified Happiness

If Only
Since most of our experiences are rooted in cause and effect, we naturally want to justify our contentment. We envision grand circumstances, stating that if only we could achieve this goal or obtain that possession, we would finally be in a position to attain happiness. As a result, satisfaction is always just out of reach and the very notion of grabbing hold of it seems like nothing more than a pipe dream. But the truth is that sincere contentment and fulfillment are never wholly the result of external events or situations. Though life’s joyful moments can ignite the spark of contentment within us, that spark is fueled by serenity long established in our souls. When we forget this, it is easy to become stuck in “if only” patterns of thought. If we concentrate on the natural serenity that exists within us, however, we can move forward unimpeded by disappointment.

The circumstances you live through each day have the potential to bring both joy and despair into your life. Relying on the reactions they awaken within you to create an emotional foundation means living on a roller coaster of feeling whose course is determined by chance. Though you may yearn for the object of your desire—be it a new job, financial health, a spouse, or some other symbol of success—you have within you the power to be happy without it. Letting go of your “if only” thinking patterns can be as easy as recognizing that inward emptiness cannot be dispelled with outer world solutions. Try creating a list of your “if only”s. Then literally and figuratively let go of the items on the list by tearing it up or burning it. This simple action can help set in motion the intention to set you free, enabling you to make a fresh and balanced start in the present, unencumbered by regrets and unfulfilled desires.

There will likely be periods in your life in which you find yourself tempted to seek a magic formula for fulfillment that is centered upon a single goal or achievement. But the ingredients that come together to form the seeds of happiness that can sustain your spirit throughout the triumphs and trials of existence come from within rather than from without. When your search for satisfaction is focused on your soul, you will never fail to find the joy you seek.

Source: Daily Om

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Simple Guide to Sexy Legs

Unfortunately, most women have to think twice before sporting a sexy mini, thanks to cellulite, varicose veins and excess fat. But you can proudly flaunt your limbs too; just follow this guide.

……………………………sexy leg

Brush off cellulite: The hormone oestrogen is partly to blame for fatty deposits, as well as lack of exercise and poor circulation. So give nature a helping hand with a body brush. In the shower, massage your calves and thighs with a brush that has rounded teeth. Have a close shave: Waxing is all very well, but the easiest and cheapest way to keep legs fuzzfree is with a razor. Shave downwards in the direction that the hair grows, then upwards for a close finish. Prevent ingrowth by massaging with an exfoliating cloth every day.

Beat salt: A high salt diet is known to cause fluid retention, so ditch sodium-rich foods such as crisps, ready meals and Chinese take-out. Eat away the bumps: Oily fish such as salmon, fresh tuna and mackerel are packed with omega-3 fats, which help the body shift flab while maintaining muscle tone. Get your greens: Spinach, broccoli and other leafy green vegetables help beat cellulite. Oats so simple: Tucking into oats in the form of porridge or cereal each morning can help beat the bloat. This is because they’re packed with soluble fibre, which boosts digestion and encourages the body to eliminate excess fluid.

Squat for slimmer thighs: Try these ball squats everyday…
1. Place a full water bottle on the floor with feet wide apart. 2. Bend down and pick up bottle up.
3. Bend again, place bottle on floor.
Repeat in sets of six.

Skip for better SHAPE:
Skipping with a rope for 10 minutes every other day is a great way to create some attractive curves, not to mention it’s a fun exercise.

Get high and waisted: Skirts, shorts and cuffed pants that sit high on your waist will make your legs look longer and your bottom trimmer.

Be well-heeled: Strappy sandals visually cut the leg at the ankle and make it look shorter. Go for pumps and strappy sandals with no ankle straps.

Raise your hemline: If you don’t love your legs it can be tempting to hide them under calf-length skirts or shorts. But cuts that end on the widest part of your calf actually make your legs look thicker. So try and avoid that pitfall. Hemlines that end an inch or two above the knee create the illusion of slimmer legs without flashing too much thigh. Just the thing that you want.

Choose neutral shoes: To elongate the line of your legs, choose shoes in a neutral colour that’s similar to your natural skin tone. Actually, these days, you can even find sandals with sheer straps. Otherwise you can try pearl, beige, tan and brown. Even metallics make the legs look like they go on forever. Silver works for those with fair skin, while those with tanned or wheatish complexion can try bronze and silver.

Source: The Times Of India

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Kutuka or Kutki

Botanical Name: Picrorhiza kurroa
Family: Scrofulariaceae
Synonyms: Black hellebore, black kutki, kali, kali kutki, kali-kutki, karru, katki, katukurogani, kaur, kuru, kuruwa, kutaki, kutki, picroliv, Picrorhiza kurroa, Picrorhiza kurroa extract, Picrorhiza kurroa Royle, Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex Benth., Picrorhiza lindleyana Steud., Picrorrhiza kurroa,
Common name: Katuka
English Name: Gentian
Genus: Picrorhiza

Parts Used: Root(exceptionally bitter)

Tradition: Used in Ayurvedic medicine

Habitat: E. Asia – Himalayas from Kashmir to Sikkim.  Found in the higher mountain elevations at 2700 – 3600 metres

Kutuka is a Perennial harb.
It is hardy to zone 0. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)  The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.
click to see the pictures……….……………………………..

English: Bamboo with rhizome Français : Pousse...

English: Bamboo with rhizome Français : Pousses de bambou avec rhizome apparent (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cultivation details:
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain. However, judging by its native range, it is likely to succeed outdoors at least in the milder areas of the country.

Seed – we have no information on this species. It is likely that the best way of propagating from seed is to sow it as soon as it is ripe, preferably in a cold frame or greenhouse. If this is not possible, sow the seed in late winter or early spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant out in the summer. Division of the rhizome in the autumn or spring.

*iridoid glycosides such as
*picrosides I, II, III
*cucurbitacin glycosides (highly oxygenated triterpenes)

Medicinal Uses:
Antibacterial; Antiinflammatory; Antiperiodic; Bitter; Cathartic; Laxative; Stomachic; Tonic.

Kuru has a long history of medicinal use, especially in India but also in China where it is known as hu huang lian . The dried rhizome is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiperiodic, cathartic (in large doses), cholagogue, laxative (in smaller doses), stomachic and bitter tonic. The root contains a number of very bitter glucosides including kutkin and picrorhizin. It also contains apocynin, which is powerfully anti-inflammatory and reduces platelet aggregation. In trials, the rhizome was shown to boost the immune system and to have a specific action against the parasie Leishmania donovani, which causes the tropical parasitic disease called leishmaniasis. The rhizome has a very beneficial effect upon the liver and digestive system and is used in the treatment of a wide range of conditions including fevers, constipation, dyspepsia and jaundice. It is also often used in the treatment of scorpion stings and snake bites. There is also some evidence that the rhizome can be of help in the treatment of bronchial asthma and a number of auto-immune diseases such as psoriasis and vitiligo, whilst it has also been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels and reduce coagulation time. The rhizome is gathered in the autumn and dried for later use.

Immune System Conditions
*acute and chronic infections
*treatment for allergies
*treatment for autoimmune disorders
*weakened immunity

Liver Conditions
*liver infections
*toxic liver damage

Respiratory Tract Conditions
Dosage: 500mg – 2g/day of the dried root    1-4mL/day of 1:2 extract

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider .


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Teeth Implantation

X-Ray picture of two cylindrical dental implan...
Image via Wikipedia

Until a few decades back when natural tooth was lost, it was replaced by a removable partial Denture, or a fixed prosthesis, Each of these treatment options had their own disadvantages, With the advancement of technology and research, dentistry today has a better option for the replacement of a natural tooth – with dental implants. Dental implant is an artificial substitute to replace the root portion of teeth and put into the bone and gums of mouth. Replacement teeth are then fixed on to these new roots.Dental Implants are a Functional and Desirable Alternative to Conventional Bridges and Dentures . Dental implants allow people who are with missing teeth to be able to smile, speak and chew well and comfortably.
…………………………….before implant….After implant
What is Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a small man-made titanium screw that serves as the replacement for the root portion of a missing natural tooth. The implant is placed in the bone of the upper or lower jaw and allowed to bond with the bone and serve as an anchor for the replacement tooth. Dental implants can be used to replace a single lost tooth or many missing teeth. Implant supported replacement teeth look, feel and if you’re missing a tooth or more, you may find that there are other things you miss. You may miss your natural smile. You may miss the ability to chew apples, crackers and other food you desire. Maybe you feel self-conscious about your teeth and mouth, or discomfort as remaining teeth shift. And perhaps you’ve experienced muscle strains, an inability to speak clearly, headaches or unease in familiar situations at work, with friends or at home.

Dental implant-1….Dental implant- 2 bmp

How Do Dental Implants Work?
Dental implants act as artificial roots. They are surgically placed into your jaw, and are the closest substitute to natural teeth in form and function. Once a dental implant is firmly integrated into your jaw, it can be used to support single crowns, bridges and dentures. Whether you are missing one tooth, several teeth or all of your teeth, dental implants may be an option for you.

*Surgical Options

* Restorative Options

* Before & After

Types of Implants :
There are three types of implants :

1. Endosseous Implant : These implants are usually shaped like a screw or cylinder. They are placed within the jaw bone.
2. Subperiosteal Implants : These Implants consist of mental frame work that attaches on top of the jaw bone but underneath the gum tissue.
3. Transosteal Implant : These implants are either a metal pin or a U – shaped frame that passes through the jaw bone and the gum tissue, in to the mouth.
Implants are made from metals and alloys such as Titanium, Titanium-Aluminium-V alloy, Chromium-cobalt-mobedium alloy, ceramics.

Advantage of Implant over traditional prosthesis:
The goal of modern dentistry is to return patientas to oral health in a predictable fashion. The partial and complete edentulous patient may be unable to recover normal function, esthetics, comfort, or speech with a traditional removable prosthesis.

The patient’s function when wearing a denture may be reduced to 60% compared with that formerly experienced with natural dentition, however, an implant prosthesis may return the function to near normal limits. The esthetics of the edentulous patient also is affected because of bone atrophy continued resorption leads to irreversible facial changes. An implant stimulates the bone and  iMPLANTmaintains its dimension in a manner similar to healthy natural teeth. As a result, the facial features are not compromised by lack of support. In addition, implant supported restorations are positioned in relation to esthetics, function and speech, not in neutral zones of soft tissue support. The soft tissues of the edentulous patient are tender form the effects of thinning mucosa decreased salivary flow, and unstable or unretentive prosthesis.

The implant retained restoration does not require soft tissue support and improves oral comfort. Speech and function are compromised with prostheses form the supporting structures during use. The tongue and peri-oral musculature may be compromised to limit the movement of the mandibular prosthesis. The implant prosthesis is stable and retentive without the efforts of the musculature.


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Down Memory Lane

Scientists are unlocking the secrets to forming long-term memory. :-
…………….secrets to forming long-term memory
The human brain is continuously swamped with sensory information from all around — in the form of new sounds, sights, smells and tastes. The inputs lead to the formation of memory, which is vital to our survival.

The volume of data received is so enormous that only a small part of it enters our short-term memory. After a while, the brain decides what is to be stored for future recall. The process by which lasting memories are created has long been an enigma for scientists. Now, however, researchers have begun to fit the pieces of this great jigsaw puzzle.

Early this month, scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm made an advancement when they discovered a mechanism that controls the brain’s ability to create memories that last months. Their experiments on genetically modified mice showed that the animals’ ability to form lasting memories could be switched on and off by simply adding a substance to the water they drank.

The brain’s ability to convert new sensory information into lasting memories is the basis of all learning. Much is known about the first few steps of this process — that is, those that lead to memories lasting a few hours. Scientists in the past have seen that altered signalling between neurons while they process a sensory input triggers a series of chemical changes in the connections between nerve endings. These changes are known as synapses.

“A lot is known about the early electrical and chemical events that take place (in the brain) in the first few hours after a memory-causing event. Much less is known about the mechanisms that lead to lasting memories, which typically happen in the next several days,” says Lars Olson, lead author of the study that appeared recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It is generally thought that lasting memories are formed by structural re-arrangements that occur in the contacts between nerve endings. The cerebral cortex, where these memories are stored, has nearly 400 trillion such contacts. The contacts may become larger or smaller, fewer or more in number, or may change positions to carry a novel memory. Once such plastic changes have occurred in the grey matter, the new memories become stored as a change in the brain circuitry. “Perhaps a bit like a firmware upgrade of a computer,” says Olson.

The Karolinska researchers have now discovered that a molecule called Nogo receptor 1 (NgR), found in nerve membrane, plays a key part in transforming short-term memories into lasting ones. Their study showed the gene that expresses this molecule has to be switched off for a sensory input to move to the realm of lasting memory.

To establish this, the Swedish researchers first created mice with an extra gene for NgR. In normal circumstances, the mice were able to switch off their own NgR gene when a learning task was given. But the extra NgR continued to remain switched on. The scientists had hypothesised that if the second NgR was working, the mice would have severely impaired abilities to form lasting memories. And they found this to be true.

The second set of experiments involved the use of an antibiotic, doxycycline, which when added to the drinking water inactivated the extra NgR. The mice which drank the water laced with doxycycline before the learning tasks were given didn’t have any difficulty in retaining their normal ability to form long-term memories.

“The study seems to be excellently designed and executed,” says Chittaranjan Andrade, professor of psychopharmacy at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore. “There is much research data available on NgR, but very little on its role in memory formation.”

According to Andrade, the subject is of significance because memory impairments characterise a number of neurological and psychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

The study comes close on the heels of another important one which provided glimpses into the role of sleep in the formation and consolidation of long-term memory. It has been known for more than a century that sleep is important for learning and memory. But till date, scientists haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact mechanism that makes it happen.

“I think sleep, particularly dream sleep, is an important component of memory consolidation. Recent experiences — that may be stored in a more temporary fashion — are evaluated such that some are permanently stored while others perhaps wither away,” says Olson. “However, we have not studied to which extent NgR regulation occurs specifically during sleep to allow consolidation.”

The scientists hope that their findings will help in the development of new treatments for memory impairing events such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and spinal cord injuries. Medicine designed to target NgR would be able to improve the brain’s ability to form long-term memories.

Source:The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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